India's top government auditor Vinod Rai Tuesday stood by his presumptive loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore in the 2G spectrum allocation, dismissing his former colleague’s claims that the sale of scarce radiowaves had cost the nation only Rs.2,645 crore.
Rai also denied the allegations of the former colleague, R.P. Singh, then director general, audit, post and telecom, and lead auditor of the 2G audit case, that he was kept out of the picture when the report was finalised.
Rai, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, and his team had a marathon session of about six hours with members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).
Briefing the media following Rai's deposition, JPC chairman P.C. Chacko termed the meeting as "cordial, rigorous but inconclusive".
Rai told the panel members that during the various stages of spectrum allocation audit, the CAG had come across many projected loss figures and his figure of Rs.1.76 lakh crore was presumptive.
The CAG told the panel that Singh had also given some other loss estimates in his draft report that ranged from Rs.65,000 crore to Rs.102,498 crore on account of 2G spectrum sale and the figure of Rs.2,645 crore was included in the final report.
The top auditor told the JPC that he had disagreed with Singh's findings because "the higher authority can take the decision and it was a normal procedure".
Rai said he could not have simply accepted what comes to him, Chacko said.
Rai also said he stood by the contents of the final report, denying that there were differences of opinion within the CAG, Chacko said.
Singh on Monday told the JPC that his calculation was right because the government and the telecom watchdog, TRAI, had not recommended any change in the telecom policy of first come and first serve basis.
Singh said the estimate of Rs.1.76 lakh crore was at best a “mathematical guess”.
Singh also told the JPC that he was not given enough time to read the final report before he was asked to sign it.
In a point-to-point rebuttal of Singh’s claims, Rai said that the final report was already given to his ex-colleague and that he was informed in advance that his findings were inconclusive.
“Rai was asked whether an attempt was made to keep Singh out of the picture of the 2G,” Chacko said.
The top auditor replied that it wasn’t the case and the CAG headquarters took over the 2G audit process because “there were lots of leakages” in the media.
He was also asked why the CAG had not conducted the audit for the 2003-2007 period when it had decided to examine licenses issued between 2003-04 and 2009-10.
Chacko said 51 telecom licenses were issued from 2004-07 on the entry fee rates decided in 2001 and the losses caused by these allocations were not calculated.
Rai replied that the telecom ministry did not furnish files and other details to the CAG regarding this.
The top auditor was asked to furnish documentary evidences regarding this if the CAG had sought the details from the department of telecom.
The top auditor will be questioned again Nov 22.